Lookit That Science GO!

We – those of us who are not blinkered and stupid – need to beat the hell out of the drums on the coronavirus vaccines because it’s an incontrovertible example of how science can work.

I know, there are resugent anti-vaxers and republicans who want to promote ignorance, but the numbers speak for themselves:

The bottom is falling out of the coronavirus outbreak, to the point where we’re not a bunch of chucklefucks, anymore. What I’m saying is that it’s down around where it ought to have been, at its worst, if the country wasn’t 20% imbeciles run my corrupt reality-denying political nihilists who decided to use a pandemic as an election issue.

A friend of mine’s mom apparently started making the “I don’t know about the vaccine…” dance and I formulated my non-obscenity-laden response, which is:

Listen, you. The vaccine has been tested, now, in over 30 million people. Sure, there have been a few people who have exhibited side effects, but “side effects” are what ‘developing immunity’ is. You have to expect some people will get muscle aches or rashes – so what, it’s what your body does while it’s preparing to not get COVID-19. Meanwhile, over 40 million people have gotten COVID-19 and over 450,000 have actually died. Don’t worry if your car’s airbags might break your glasses while they’re protecting you from hitting your face on the steering wheel at 70mph, OK?

I remain endlessly mind-boggled by two facts:

  • The outbreak and all the deaths and economic damage did not have to happen. We could have collectively experienced something nowhere near as expensive and deadly, if we had just listened to TWIV.
  • The economic damage also did not have to happen. It happened because capitalists preferred to keep collecting their slice of the action in spite of the death and destruction that resulted, and the reduction in their slice of the action that resulted from their own insisting that “party on!” be business’ response. No single thing in recent history reveals the utter foolishness of the capitalist class than the fact that they’d prefer to set a poor person on fire so they can bask in the heat, than to put on a sweater, or something obvious like that. Capitalists like to say “A rising tide floats all boats” but … what the hell even is this?  Capitalism playing “trolley car” experiments at large?

When the outbreak started, there was a lot of questioning about how long it would take to make a vaccine. And science delivered remarkably well. In the meantime, the forces of stupidity and incompetence actively made things worse, in order to … I don’t get it but somehow they think it made them look better? No, really, what the fuck just happened here?

The 2020 pandemic was well-instrumented and generally scientists have pretty good data about the outbreak, and how and where it happened. They can map “superspreader” events and verify that, indeed, they were right that partying in a disco while expressing virus is a bad idea for everyone. They will continue to map and analyze this and I predict that some results will come out clearly: republican-governed states experienced worse outcomes, republican leaders tried to make other states experience bad outcomes, too, so they wouldn’t look as obviously incompetent, anti-vaxxers are liars because the massive scale of the vaccine deployment has demonstrated remarkably few side-effects, and COVID-19 killed a lot of people. Unfortunately we will see that COVID-19 killed disproportionately black and poor people in republican states – no surprise there. We will see that the rich fared better and did not hesitate to use their wealth to shove to the front of the line while simultaneously saying that there was no pandemic and “what are you all lining up for?”

As I’ve said elsewhere: the pandemic is a case-study of how badly humans respond to species-wide disasters and it shows that we are going to screw the pooch horribly when it comes to climate change, and we’ll probably go extinct as a species because, well, don’t forget to eat the conservatives first.

None of this had to happen. This was all a horrible science experiment run by morons. Make sure you thank them appropriately. Seriously, if I had a relative who died of COVID-19 because they listened to some gobshite who pushed hydroxychloroquine instead of social isolation and PPE, I’d be tempted to take a baseball bat to their face. It’s self-defense. We’re going to have to deal with the same people when global warming starts to kill, and they’re going to do even worse damage. None of that had to happen, either. Humans have known about the problem with carbon dioxide emissions since WWII. There was plenty of time to stop fighting, stop drilling and pumping, and build windmills. Now, it’s probably too late. If you have conservative friends and family, it’s time to upgrade or replace.


  1. says

    The republiclowns flogged 9/11 for fifteen years and got political mileage/kilometerage out of it despite the fact that it happened because the Bu**sh** regime was asleep at the wheel.

    It’s time for the democrats to make political use of COVID-19, Texas, the economy and other things. Keep pounding the message that facts trump ideology, reminding voters who caused it and who fixed it.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    The economic damage also did not have to happen.

    There was going to be economic damage, because lockdowns were necessary to contain the spread. But right-wingers made the economic damage worse by ignoring the virus, whereas the better answer was to control the virus. The reason that so many people are still unemployed is that it is not safe for them to return to work, because the pandemic rages unchecked.
    We should have put far greater resources into testing. Early on, they were saying don’t bother to get tested unless you exhibit symptoms, even if you were exposed to people who were infectious. I work at an organization where they have managed to control the virus pretty well by testing the bulk of the population twice a week. Imagine if every one in the country were tested twice a week. It would be simple to identify clusters, and then some people would have to quarantine, and lockdowns could probably be kept local.

  3. Owlmirror says


    Term of art, dude: Wind turbines.

    Remember what a windmill is: a wind-driven millstone system. As in, it mills grain into flour.

    No milling takes place with a wind turbine.


  4. billseymour says

    Owlmirror @3:

    Remember what a windmill is: a wind-driven millstone system. As in, it mills grain into flour.

    So what should we call a wind-driven machine that runs a water pump?  (I’m pretty sure that farmers in the Great Plains call them windmills.)

  5. consciousness razor says

    The bottom is falling out of the coronavirus outbreak, to the point where we’re not a bunch of chucklefucks, anymore. What I’m saying is that it’s down around where it ought to have been, at its worst, if the country wasn’t 20% imbeciles run my corrupt reality-denying political nihilists who decided to use a pandemic as an election issue.

    Very optimistic, but I don’t know about that…. I searched for news articles from last summer, when the 7-day average of new confirmed cases hit a record (at that time) around 70k/day, just a bit less than the current rate. Here’s one. Note the general tone and perspective of this July 19 article from the Washington Post:

    The crisis that shocked the world: America’s response to the coronavirus
    Dysfunctional politics, a lack of funding for public health and a rush to reopen the economy ignited the resurgence of the virus
    Six months after the coronavirus appeared in America, the nation has failed spectacularly to contain it. The country’s ineffective response has shocked observers around the planet.

    Many countries have rigorously driven infection rates nearly to zero. In the United States, coronavirus transmission is out of control. The national response is fragmented, shot through with political rancor and culture-war divisiveness. Testing shortcomings that revealed themselves in March have become acute in July, with week-long waits for results leaving the country blind to real-time virus spread and rendering contact tracing nearly irrelevant.

    The United States may be heading toward a new spasm of wrenching economic shutdowns or to another massive spike in preventable deaths from covid-19 — or both.

    How the world’s richest country got into this dismal situation is a complicated tale that exposes the flaws and fissures in a nation long proud of its ability to meet cataclysmic challenges.

    The fumbling of the virus was not a fluke: The American coronavirus fiasco has exposed the country’s incoherent leadership, self-defeating political polarization, a lack of investment in public health, and persistent socioeconomic and racial inequities that have left millions of people vulnerable to disease and death.

    In this big, sprawling, demographically and culturally diverse nation, the decentralized political structures gave birth to patchwork policies that don’t make sense when applied to a virus that ignores state boundaries and city limits.

    While other countries endured some of the same setbacks, few have suffered from all of them simultaneously and catastrophically. If there was a mistake to be made in this pandemic, America has made it.

    The single biggest miscalculation was rushing to reopen the economy while the virus was still spreading at high rates through much of the country, experts say. The only way to reopen safely, epidemiologists said as far back as early April, was to “crush the curve” — to drive down the rate of viral transmission to the point that new infections were few and far between.

    Whatever you want to say about that diagnosis above, just as many people are being infected every day right now, and the total number of deaths has nearly quintupled since then.

    The fact that it had been even worse over the previous few months is … well … obviously not a good sign of anything. As I’m sure you agree, what we absolutely do not want to do is make the same miscalculation that the WP article highlights. But to many people, “things are starting to look a little better!” seems to suggest that we do exactly that.

    I would not like it to be this way for the rest of my life — seems like a very minimal and reasonable request to me. Will this ever end? As good and as important as they are, it’s not clear how these shots are supposed to make that happen.

    So we need to do a lot more than that. What will that be then? If you listened for the government’s current answer, you’ll just hear crickets chirping.

    Even though we were tearing our hair out about it just last year, is it just going to be normalized eventually? Is that where we’re headed? If we’re that frog in a pot of water that’s slowly heating up, do we really want to stop and appreciate that the temperature went down for a little bit, or do we just want to get the fuck out of there as soon as we can?

  6. consciousness razor says

    Just to underline the point a bit more, lots of the experts were predicting, well in advance and before anyone knew when a vaccine might be available, that it was likely we’d have a peak over the fall and winter. That’s what we saw happen, and we’re now coming down from that.

    But that doesn’t tell us what’s likely to come next. There are only three logical possibilities: it could go up, it could go down, or it could remain the same. And you don’t want to commit some kind of hot hands fallacy, based on the fact that recently it’s been going down.

  7. blf says

    @9, In addition, w.r.t. to the OP, the OP’s own charted decline in new cases started while hair furor was occupying Wacko House and his dalekocrazy was still exterminating the federal government (and looks like it went on for at least two weeks). We might start seeing any effect due to Biden and actual experts being allowed to function in this month’s (Feburary) data, but I suspect any trend due the overthrow of the kleptocrazy won’t be apparent until March’s figures — and then it still has to be teased out from other effects / causes.

  8. consciousness razor says

    I don’t see such big changes in the works. You can hope for that, if you want….

    It sort of reminds me of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or just their whole approach to foreign policy for that matter. The promise was that they’d be better or more efficient operators of our war machine, compared to Bush and co. Maybe (if they get around to it) they’d “fix” a few parts that were not working as intended, although that still means bombings and regime changes and all the rest… But what I wanted is for them to stop using the fucking machine and to smash the fucking thing into tiny little bits, so it is no more. The totally predictable result? It’s still humming, just like it was always was.

    Maybe the financial collapse is an even better analogy. No big changes to the previous way of doing things, and if anything just normalizing them for a certain class of people in both parties. Apparently, all you have to do is polish it up a little, so it looks like you’re staying busy. But with that, as you could’ve guessed once again, it doesn’t really end. We just get more used to it.

  9. billyum says

    Science denialism is strong in the US because Christian fundamentalists deny evolution. It is exacerbated by big businesses, such as the tobacco and fossil fuel industries because science based regulation cuts into profits. Few people remember that global warming was not a partisan issue in the US in 1990. Propaganda made it so. Propaganda is making mask wearing a partisan issue today.

    On top of science denialism, bad economics has made matters worse. One reason that even blue states did not enforce more stringent lockdowns is that they rely upon economic activity to raise taxes, and they rely upon taxes to provide services, including public health. They faced a choice of evils. The federal government does not face that problem, it can create money itself, and it can borrow money at effectively negative interest rates. A lockdown produces an artificial recession or depression, one not based upon economic weakness. The federal government could have put the economy on life support by pumping money into it. People could have gotten enough money to live, businesses could have gotten enough money to pay expenses, landlords could have gotten their rent, banks could have gotten their debts paid. Until we got the pandemic under control. Countries like New Zealand, Australia, and South Korea show that we could have gotten the pandemic under control, even without vaccines. Then, when it was safe to start reopening, we could have done so with minimal economic damage and loss of life.

    Now the US has to rely upon herd immunity, which we can probably reach this year, thanks to the vaccines.

  10. billyum says

    About the US being able to borrow at effectively negative interest rates, that is not unusual during crises, when the US dollar becomes a safe haven.

  11. starblue says

    The falling curve of infections is probably due to change in behavior. At the moment about 1/8 of the US population is vaccinated at least once [source]. That helps, but it should have only a weak effect on infections. Especially considering that old and vulnerable people are vaccinated first, which are not as actively spreading the virus as younger people. IMHO the first visible effect of vaccination will be falling numbers for hospitalization and death among the old, and falling infections will only come when also younger people are vaccinated. I hope by autumn we are through with the worst.

  12. says

    In addition to what starblue said, I suspect that those who generally engage in risky behavior have already been infected and are among the 28 million. I don’t see a Super Bowl Party bump. Those who generally did one of those probably also did Thanksgiving and Christmas and got Covid earlier.

    And the rest of us who have tried to be careful are continuing to be careful (though there can still be transmissions since masks are not 100%). To pull up a 50-year old (para-)phrase: those of us still being careful would hate to be the last one to die from Covid.

    And meanwhile, there are no vaccines to be had in my part of Ohio. And I’m looking.

  13. publicola says

    @4: Wouldn’t a “wind generator” be a device that generates wind? Maybe “wind-powered generator” would be better. (I know, I know, picky picky) And speaking of “screwing the pooch” on climate change, just imagine if the fossil-fuel industry had seen the writing on the wall in 1973 when OPEC shut off the tap, (they probably did). Let’s imagine further that they had had the courage and foresight to act on that knowledge in a significant way, (they didn’t).They could have taken most of the money they spent on exploration and drilling and put it into developing alternative energy sources. They not only be even richer than they are now, but they would actually have a bright and viable future, as would the rest of us. We would have a stable, carbon-net-zero world, instead of one desperately trying to scramble up the slippery slope of climate catastrophe. Coulda-woulda-shoulda…

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